Montreux, Switzerland, June 9, 2017- The semi-final line-up of the 2017 Montreux Volley Masters was confirmed, and it was the South Americans Brazil and Argentina who soared through to the last four with victories over Thailand and Switzerland respectively to finish top of their pools. Joining them in the semi-finals as runners-up are China, the only podium finisher from 2016 to feature in the final four this year, and Germany, who progressed despite losing to Poland after a tie-break in the opening game of the day.
Going into that fixture, Poland needed victory to have any hope of progressing, whilst Germany, on five points after their two opening victories, needed a mere point from the clash to be sure of a semi-final berth. Going two sets ahead, the excellent Louisa Lippmann leading the way once more for the Germans, they sealed their spot in the last four with minimal fuss, but remarkably took their foot off the gas. Malwina Smarzek and Agnieszka Kakolewska duly took advantage of their complacency, starring as the Poles hit back from their deficit to turn the game around and come away with a 3-2 (25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 12-25, 8-15) tie-break triumph.
Unfortunately for Poland, that result would soon become obsolete, since they needed Brazil to lose to Thailand if they were to progress. Despite having to deal with the pressure of Poland showing their hand with victory, Brazil didn’t let it hidner them. Tandara Caixeta and Adenizia Da Silva were the aces in the hole for a Brazil side that oozed class and confidence, hitting 31 points (nine blocks) between them to seal a 3-1 (16-25, 26-24, 17-25, 14-25) win over Thailand. From the off, one sensed it would be Brazil’s day, Drussyla Costa and Ana Carolina Da Silva also putting in strong performances. Coach José Roberto Guimaraes even handed a cameo appearance to Rosamaria Montibeller, and she hit seven points late on to help ease her team ease into the last four. Brazil’s victory sees them through as winners of Pool B ahead of Germany. Pool A runners-up China will, therefore, be their semi-final opponents.
The last formality to be settled was the progression of Argentina, who went into their match with Switzerland two points behind Pool A leaders China with two tie-break wins and four points under their belts, and needing any form of victory to overhaul China at the top. Despite play being generally competitive, they eventually settled their final match in Pool A with minimal fuss, dispatching the Swiss in straight sets (21-25, 21-25, 20-25); a victory owed to the radiance of quartet Paula Yamila Nizetich, Lucía Fresco, Emilce Sosa and Elina Rodríguez, who struck a combined 39 points to power the Argentines through to a semi-final date with Germany, with a place in the final and a shot at the coveted gold medal at stake.
With a mouth-watering semi-final line-up finally decided, and two exciting classification match-ups to come, the Swiss Riviera gears itself up for a bumper day of volleyball, which is sure to guarantee more drama.